The Art of Writing Translations
by Florian Von Banier
First Chapter: On the Subject of Translation, which is the Subject of This Book
Translation is a creative act.
It is therefore Holy, I consecrate it.
Translation is the art of rendering one language into another.
And what is a language? It is a creative act, it is an event, that often transpires within the boundaries of a community of language-users. In this book I am only concerned with the translation of written language, and not with the translation of spoken language. Written language, of course, precedes spoken language. Before there is speech, there must be writing, in which the speech can be said to have its meaning. After there is speech, there must be writing, as a form of proof of the speech. Speech without writing is like music without notation--it cannot last. Of course, nothing lasts. I have learned that (my hands have killed, is what I have written).
It is true that one language cannot fully be rendered into another, ever.
This is what makes translation an art. It is an attempt to reproduce the irreproducible. It is an attempt to give a name to that which has no name. DVHD, GD, God, has no name. Yet there is no greater vocation than that of finding a way to give GD a name. Job 18:17 - "His memory perishes from the earth, and he has no name in the street." Which is written like this in The Holy Septuagint (as a prior demonstration): "to mnhmosunon autou apoloito ek ghV kai uparcei onoma autw epi proswpon exwterw"
It is the creative aspect of translation that makes it a worthy discipline. The only disciplines that are worthy are those that require an axe. The axe must break our souls apart, it must rip the very sinewy hairs of our flesh and destroy the emptied lots that reside between our bones. One is only alive, if one has already died, like some have. One must pass through gates of terrific proportions in order to fully lose their soul. For it is death that is God. 1 Samuel 2:6 - "Jehovah putteth to death, and keepeth alive, He bringeth down to Sheol, and bringeth up." And in the Bhagavadgita:
"Know naught! Life cannot slay. Life is not slain!
Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never;
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams!
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit for ever;
Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems!"
Translation requires the knowledge of two scripts, one of which is rendered into the other.
The first script I will refer to as the native script. This is the script of the text that will be rendered into another script. This rendering is the essence of translation, but it is not simple or formulaic, though at times I may make it appear to be such. A good translator will never read this book.
The second script I will refer to as the destination script. This is the script into which the native script will e rendered.
The destination script must always be completely at home in the hand of the translator, that is, a translator must always fully understand the script in which he is writing his translation. A translator that does not do this is like a cow that tries to bear fruit from her utters, or a tree that tries to produce a calf. Yet if a tree knows what it is like to be a cow, that tree is a cow, and can give forth from its belly a delicious and ripe milk, yet one that will ferment in time.
A good translation is always local. It will evaporate. It is bound to a time and a community.
That is why all good books must be translated forever, or else we will forget how to read. Some examples follow.
Please note the examples have been ommitted for a time being, LM
A translator should know the native script as well as he knows the destination script. If he does not, his translation could be like the milk of a tree.
Yet, one can provide a good translation of a script one does not know. This, however, will be a systematic and rigid translation, and it will lack eloquence and flowers. It will be like the writing of Plato. It will not be like Cicero's or Quintillian's rhetoric. It will die quickly, even if it is about a wondrous topic.
If one does not know the native script at all, the translation will take a great amount of time.
There is a ratio that might be expressed thusly: the degree of time that the translation will take is decreased according to the degree to which the translator understands the native script.
Another ratio: The degree to which the translation will be considered an excellent translation increases according to each of these: the degree to which the translator knows the destination script, the degree to which the translator knows the native script, the time the translator has devoted to the translation.
The proportion of excellent translation to knowledge of destination script is not equivalent to the proportion of excellent translation to knowledge of native script. The translation will always be the more excellent if the translator knows the figures and shapes of the destination script with their heart.
A good translation always requires some amount of time, but I have also read excellent translations that took very little time. Some translations have taken centuries and they are awful. I hold this to be self evident, and will provide no examples. If you have doubts, you can chew on your muscles instead of my book. Thank You.
A good translator always reads the text in the native script at least four times before the translation, an infinite number of times during the translation, and never after the translation, until they have grown old. Who reads their own writing before they have grown old? Only one with a great sense of vanity. Vanity is not a characteristic of a good translator. Of this I will treat later, in a separate chapter.
Contrary to what many will tell you, knowledge of a script, does not require knowledge of its punctuation, or even of its grammar, but only of its function as a means of being written and read. A script is always a means to writing and reading. Therefore, it is a function, more than it is an object. A script that is not punctuated, is still a script? If it were not, we would not recognize it as such. Also, can you also be unable to read what I have been saying in this here sentence that exemplifies oddly-put locutions and grammar-freeness of poor grammar understanding? Or are you stupid? Quod erat demonstrandum. (I love to write that!)
Knowledge of a script involves only a thorough understanding of its function. Its function is to be written, and to be read. 'Function' est clavis.
Translation is of function, not content. Would you translate a joke word for word? Or would you translate it as another joke? If you answer this question, you will reveal to your soul the true vocation of your hands--as translating hands, or not as translating hands.
A text should be translated like this: in the way that a violinist plays the violin, or a flautist the flute, or a woman her child, or a storm its rain.
Translation is a natural thing. If translation feels like a cow eating grass, you are a translator
Translation is above all artistic. The meaning of this will only be made clear if you return to the first page and read the book again, and when you return to this point, do the same again, and do this infinitely, until you have withered in your chair and are on the point of death. Then, read to the remainder of this chapter before you die, then eat, and revive yourself with vegetables. Do not eat meat at this time, or while translating.
Translation is a poetry, a music, a harp, a vision, an apocalypse.
An apocalypse is but a prophetic vision. Usually such prophecies signal a great transformation, a change in stabilities, an altering of forms and the subjects of these forms, but sometimes there are apocalypses of flowers. I, for instance, once meditated at the top of a mountain in the country of Japan. The mountain was empty, except for myself, the animals, the trees, the flowers, and God. In this meditation I was approached by God, which I will describe for you in a later chapter. God showed to me the glory of a blossoming flower, the coming forth of a beautiful fruit, the reproductive majesty of a plant's sexual energy. I was enraptured. I was lifted from this world. I saw all of the angels, I saw Gabriel and together we laughed for hours about the mistakes that my species had made. I was shown the history of our planet as if all in an instant that lasted forever, and this instantaneous was what was magical. I witnessed the building of the Pyramids, and their future destruction. I witnessed wars fought on fronts, games played by men concerned only about their vanity. I witnessed a great man whose name was Gaandi, he does not yet exist, but he shall be great and beautiful and bold and he shall be the last man, because he shall spread a message of peace so wide that only those that are incapable of bearing their own souls will not understand his words. And yet time will march on past Gaandi and we, yes we who live now in squalor and decay, will one day live on another planet, which will call by a name that I cannot even pronounce, for it is unpronouncable now.
I witnessed the love of all mothers and it is this that made my understand the flower's desire to live, to give birth. I witnessed my own birth, the birth of my mother, and the birth of all my ancestors and descendents. All these births are beautiful and out of love. I will have over thirteen children, so I have witnessed. And yet in the simplicity of a mother's caress long ago in a remote corner of Syria, the history of our species is written in. In the casual glance of her eye as it moved across her child's bare body was the destruction and rebuilding of all our technes and epistemes wrought out. As she smoothed her child's naked head, kings were born and peasants died, Ramesses was named and Cleopatra lost her virginity in a state of terror. As she whispered her child's name (which I cannot dear whisper in my own mouth, for my mouth would only fill with sand if I intended to) the life of Y'Shua transpired and the lives of everyone else also, the beginning of the race occured, and the infinite postponement of our extinction was demonstrated. The charitable love of a mother is a simplistic form of poetry so vast and immense that in it one can imagine everything beautiful, and so also everything wicked. For it is only through the beautiful that the wicked can be. It is all by a way of differentiation that we know anything. And in the love of some mothers there is no differentiation, there is only unconditional acceptance of everything, a tremendous grace, and so that is how the history of a species can be reduced to the form of a mother's stroke of the nape of her child's neck, gently cooing lullabies as the seawaves slowly drift the lost boat further and further away from its land, and towards its final destiny deep under the river that separates Portugal from the end of the world.
The last mark in this line indicates the end of the First Chapter.
Second Chapter: On the Subject of Translating Speech
by Florian Von Banier